Not that I am a country girl, in fact I lived my whole childhood at solely 23km from Lisbon, and 11 km from Cascais. But back on those days there were wheat fields and plenty of open fields with fig trees and wild blackberries, and I miss those days.
This year when I finally was able to take a weekend off, after 2 years without holidays, and I heard that on that particular day the hotel was offering an Herbs and plants tour around the property, I was glad as a child again!
The hotel (Convento do Espinheiro) is located in Évora, Alentejo, although is an international chain branded hotel it didn’t turn it’s back to the local culture, and you can see that in so many ways. That’s surprised me on a very good way.
I didn’t brought big expectations to the tour itself, I was eager for the contact with the plans, herbs, and by learning all I could from the life experience of Mestre Salgueiro (our chaperone).
I think we can split the tour into 3 parts, first Mestre Salgueiro hand picked some wild herbs and plants and took us to enjoy the shadow of the olive trees while he starts is lecture about herbs that are suitable to be eaten raw or as an infusion. The second part of the tour was dedicated to the kitchen garden, where we can find laurel, lemon thyme, pennyroyal mint (one of the top herbs used in Alentejo’s cuisine), summer savory among many others.
A part from the kitchen garden, the property has also a small vineyard, the hotel expects to produce some wine in a near future. And also a recent orchard with fig trees, queen claudia plum green trees and raspberries.
We were also able to see the new trend in entertaining the kids at the hotel, using a solar oven to bake a chocolate cake.
The last part, was dedicated to a soup tasting at the pool bar, I went for a Pennyroyal and beans soup (and yes it had a poached egg in it!).
This tour happens once a year and normally during Easter weekend (lucky me it was raining a lot around Easter and they have randomly choose the weekend I was there).